IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-02-15

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 15, 2007 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. From Farm to Fuel: (One of a series of articles) 2. CardioChek program hopes to raise awareness through racing 3. Patrick helps AirTran launch...


Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. From Farm to Fuel: (One of a series of articles)
2. CardioChek program hopes to raise awareness through racing
3. Patrick helps AirTran launch service in Phoenix

1. From Farm to Fuel: (One of a series of articles): As we begin the countdown to the first IndyCar Series race run on 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol, set for March 24 under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway, many people are wondering how exactly corn becomes fuel capable of powering the IndyCar Series at speeds in excess of 220 mph.

"After being the Team Ethanol driver for almost a year, I've seen corn turned to ethanol first hand from driving a combine in the field, to visiting ethanol plants, to using it in my own car," said Jeff Simmons, driver of the No. 17 Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Rahal Letterman Racing.

"Each day I'm more impressed with its high-performance attributes, and I look forward to Homestead, where I can really showcase ethanol's power."

The IndyCar Series is the first in motorsports to use a renewable and homegrown fuel. Most U.S. ethanol is made from corn, but the production process is versatile. There is research underway to make ethanol from crops such as sugar beets, sorghum, barley, and switchgrass. So how is a bushel of corn transformed into nearly three gallons of high-performance fuel for the IndyCar Series? Read on for the inside story.

a. Sowing the seeds
Corn is planted in fields across America. Some of the largest corn-producing states are Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois.

b. Cornucopia
Corn is harvested and delivered to Renova Energy in Torrington, Wyo., one of the more than 110 ethanol plants in production. In 2006, these facilities produced nearly 5.4 billion gallons of ethanol - enough to enrich 46 percent of all gasoline sold in the United States. Currently, there are more than 75 ethanol plants under construction in the U.S.

c. Milling around
The corn is ground into a coarse flour. The flour will be used in the fermentation process. The starch is removed and milled into a fine powder.

d. We're cookin' now
The flour is mixed with water and an enzyme to help break the starch into smaller particles. The resulting mash is cooked at 189 to 190 degrees to liquefy the starch and reduce bacteria levels, and then heated to 225 degrees to help break the starch down further.

e. Sweet!
The mash is removed from the cookers and cooled. Then a second enzyme is added to help convert the liquid starch into a sugar (dextrose) that can be fermented.

f. Destination: fermentation
The mash is mixed with yeast, which changes the sugar to ethanol and carbon dioxide. It takes about 50-60 hours for the mash to ferment.

g. In distill of the night..
The fermented mash contains about 15 percent ethanol. The rest of the mixture is water and corn/yeast solids that can't be fermented. To separate the ethanol, the mixture is heated multiple times to a temperature where ethanol vaporizes, but the remaining materials do not. The ethanol vapor is collected and cooled, where it condenses to its liquid form.

h. Dehydration (it's a good thing)
To purify the ethanol and remove any remaining water, it's passed through a dehydration system, creating anhydrous ethanol (anhydrous means "without water"). After this step, the ethanol is approximately 200 proof ... which explains the need for step nine.

i. Potent, but not potable
To make the ethanol unfit for human consumption - a requirement for all fuel-grade ethanol - a small amount of denaturant is added (2 percent for the IndyCar Series).

j. On the side
The leftovers, or co-products, of the process - distiller's grain and carbon dioxide -- can be saved. Distiller's grain (DDG's) is used as a highly nutritious livestock feed, and carbon dioxide can be collected, purified, compressed, and sold for use by the carbonated beverage and dry-ice industries.

k. On the road again
A tanker picks up the ethanol from Renova Energy and delivers it to Indianapolis. The ethanol is stored at Superior Solvents and Chemicals, which has the capacity to store up to 30,000 gallons.

l. Homestead-Miami Speedway bound Switzer Tank Lines delivers the ethanol to Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 19 to fuel the first race run on 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol.

2. CardioChek program hopes to raise awareness through racing: Cholesterol is referred to ominously as "the silent killer." A new program available to ticket holders attending all IndyCar Series domestic events will seek to promote healthy lifestyles and provide early warning of potential health concerns. Using CardioChek, a hand-held device developed by Polymer Technology Systems, health screenings will be held at each racetrack that hosts the IndyCar Series in '07.

Public awareness begins Feb. 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Wal-Mart Pharmacy in Fishers, Ind., with free cholesterol screenings. CardioChek will be an associate sponsor on the No. 20 Vision Racing car of Ed Carpenter, who will take part in the health screening and sign autographs at the Wal-Mart Pharmacy.

"I'm excited to have PTS and their CardioChek System with us for the 2007 season," he said. "CardioChek is something that represents a healthy lifestyle, which I believe in, and it's something that almost every consumer can benefit from. The CardioChek analyzer is a great innovation that really can improve one's quality of life."

Since its inception, the IndyCar Series has been a motorsports leader in technology and safety. It also has alliances with cutting-edge companies such as Indianapolis-based PTS, which supplies CardioChek to major retail pharmacies across the country. CardioChek with corresponding PTS Panels Test Strips can measure Total Cholesterol, HDL Cholesterol, Triglycerides and other related indicators associated with increased cardiovascular risk. CardioChek was one of 10 products chosen in the Personal Health category for the 2006 Popular Science Best of What's New Awards.

"There are millions of Americans who can benefit from the CardioChek technology, so we want to get the CardioChek brand in front of as many consumers as we can, as fast as we can," PTS president and CEO Bob Huffstodt said.

"Auto racing being so popular helps us get that exposure. Speed and precision are of course important to both the world of racing and medical diagnostics. Indianapolis being the shared birthplace of both the Indy Racing League and CardioChek makes the fit perfect."

3. Patrick helps AirTran launch service in Phoenix: AirTran Airways launched flight service at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Feb. 15 with the help of IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick. Patrick, driver of Andretti Green Racing's No. 7 Team Motorola entry, escorted AirTran Airways' inaugural flight once it landed at Sky Harbor airport by driving a ceremonial pace car, a silver Ferrari 360 Modena, ahead of the Boeing 737 as it taxied to the gate. AirTran Airways, a sponsor of Andretti Green Racing and Patrick, also incorporated Make-A-Wish of Arizona into the inaugural event by granting a Wish Kid's dream of meeting Patrick.


The 2007 IndyCar Series season begins under the lights with the XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 24. The race will be telecast live by ESPN2 at 8 p.m. (EDT) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition begins with the Miami 100 on March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast on at 5 p.m. (EDT) on March 28 by ESPN2.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jeff Simmons , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter